Three men on the US fencing team took a stand against their teammate, who was accused of sexual misconduct by three different female fencers.
Before the start of the team épée competition at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday, Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald, and Yeisser Ramirez all chose to wear pink masks in protest to their teammate Alen Hadzic, who stood beside them sporting a black one. Fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad commended the three fencers for making a statement, tweeting:
“#TeamUSA men’s epee team wore pink masks for their opening match at the Olympics as a show of support for sexual assault victims. Kudos to the team for taking a stand. #BelieveWomen.”
Ramirez later reposted her tweet on his Instagram Story. Take a look (below):
Another unnamed fencer told BuzzFeed News that they wanted to stand in solidarity with sexual assault survivors, saying:
“They decided to make a statement that they were not standing for him being there. They wanted to make a distinction between themselves that they didn’t stand for sexual assault or abuse against women. These athletes wanted to have a voice where US Fencing and SafeSport failed.”
In case you didn’t know, the US Center for SafeSport temporarily suspended the 29-year-old athlete from fencing in June after three women came forward accusing him of sexual misconduct between 2013 and 2015. However, his Olympic eligibility was restored after an arbitrator overturned the suspension, claiming that his inclusion on the team wouldn’t be “detrimental to the reputation of the United States or his sport,” The New York Times reported. WTF???? Alen has since denied the accusations, which are currently under investigation.
In an interview with USA Today, an anonymous accuser slammed the decision to reverse his suspension, expressing:
“I think one case is enough for you to not be allowed to compete at the f**king Olympics. It really makes you question how far someone needs to go in order for them not to be able to compete.”
Still, the New Jersey native joined the team in Tokyo as an alternate. But due to the allegations, he was banned from the Olympic Village but allowed to compete under Team USA if another teammate became ill or injured. Hadzic did not participate in the match on Friday, but his presence on the team understandably sparked controversy with viewers.
Reactions to the fencing team’s protest against Hadzic, Perezcious readers? Sound OFF with your thoughts in the comments (below).